Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blackburnian Warbler and other Lifers during the 2008 Bird-a-thon!

I truly enjoyed my day out with members of Gordon's Gaggle during the 2008 MassAudubon Bird-a-thon. I learned so much about ID-ing birds, got out to a great birding spot, and even got a few pictures for my blog.

I planned to meet the team at Mt. Auburn Cemetery at 9:00am. They were running a little late (good birding in Medford) so I spent the first hour by myself, which was good since it gave me some time to explore on my own. It was an exciting place to be during the Bird-a-thon. There were birders everywhere with their Swarovskis, huge scopes and tripods. I went down to a quiet shaded area where I spotted some Chipping Sparrows and also some black and white warblers w/yellow. At this point I was just practicing using my binoculars and didn't get any pictures so I quickly forgot what they looked like.

At 10:00 I met the two members of the group assigned to Mt. Auburn Cemetery and they took me up Indian Ridge right away. There was unbelievable activity up there. There were so many groups gathered along the path, calling out sightings of various warblers. There was a lot of excitement over a female Tanager, and I was quiet excited to see a male Scarlet Tanager for the first time! Everyone has said that their color is breath-taking and it truly is! Here's a picture of a Magnolia Warbler that I snapped while up there:

Then we went over to the Dell where a Summer Tanager had been sighted. In fact we spent the whole day in search of the Summer Tanager but came up empty in the end- missing him by mere minutes each time. In addition to spending a lot of time at the Dell, we also spent a good portion of the day up on the hill where the observation tower is. Here a Blackburnian Warbler was spotted, which brought a lot of excitement. When I first caught sight of him I couldn't believe how beautiful he was. The way the rose fades to white on the breast was really beautiful. It was my favorite sighting of the day:

The more experienced of the pair I was with was intent upon finding not only the Summer Tanager, but also a Nashville Warbler. There was quite a bit of activity in the apple tree up on the hill where tower is, I saw something small and gray with yellow on it and got excited thinking it was the Nashville Warbler. I tried taking a few pictures to help me ID it, and unfortunately it looks like it's a female Parula. The wing bars are a dead giveaway:

As I mentioned, this was my first time using binoculars and it's great because you have an unbelievable view of the birds; however, if you're a novice like me you can have a hard time keeping track of what you've seen.

Here are some birds I saw yesterday. This list may seem kind of short for a trip to Mt. Auburn during peak migration time, but I want to be truthful and only include birds that I actually was able to locate and identify as they were called out to me by my team members. There were many cases where they were described to me but I was never able to locate them with my binoculars.

  • Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak (near the Dell)
  • Eastern Towhee (seen in the apple tree)
  • Juvenile Red-tailed hawk eating a mouse (in a tree right by the front gates, being harassed by blue jays the whole time)
  • Veery
  • Blackpoll Warbler (looks just like a chickadee with stripes)
  • American Redstart (I became quite familiar with these as the day went on- they were so abundant there)
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Juvenile Baltimore Oriole (the black on its head was very splotchy so I didn't recognize it at first- this guy was hopping around on the path up on Indian Ridge)
  • Female Black-throated Blue Warbler (I saw her down by Auburn Lake- the most distinguishing characteristic was the small patch on her wings)
  • Ovenbird (rustling around in the leaves just off one of the paths around the Dell)

And last but not least:

  • Cedar Waxwing (I spotted a male hanging off the lower branches of an oak when we were on our way out for the day- this was exciting because it was a lifer for me and I was also able to call the attention of my team members, who hadn't counted one yet for the Bird-a-thon. And I probably wouldn't have noticed it if it weren't for my mother Carol, also an avid bird-watcher, who spotted one in her yard on the Cape a few weeks ago. She was excited to show it to me in her Peterson's Guide and the image stuck with me. They're just as beautiful as she said they are!)

I couldn't get enough so I made a return trip the very next day!

1 comment:

Leah Labrecque: spying on birds since 2007. said...

Congratulations on your excellent day of birding! I share your delight in your first cedar waxwing - mine was recently too. Sometimes it feels like such a triumph to see a new bird/know that your ID is right. Keep up the good work!